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Righting Wrongs (Above the Law)

original title: Zhi fa xian feng


  • Export Version
  • Mandarin Version
Release: Oct 07, 2021 - Author: Muck47 - Translator: Mike Lowrey - external link: IMDB

Comparison between the export version on the DVD from South Africa and the Mandarin version on Side B of Universe's Hong Kong DVD.

- 16 cuts
- Cut duration: 510.6 sec (= 8:31 min)
=> Of which two spots are exclusive to the Mandarin version, with a duration of 111 sec (= 1:51 min)

Also, two additional spots in the export version, with a duration of 6.9 sec

A few additional master errors with a duration of less than 0.5 sec each were not listed in the report.

Righting Wrongs (a.k.a. Above the Law) is a small gem of '80s action cinema from Hong Kong. Cynthia Rothrock and Yuen Biao show their skills impressively here and the whole thing is basically mandatory viewing for the genre fan. Unfortunately, there are a few different versions floating around here as well. Similar to Millionaires' Express, you have to break it down a bit more.

There are three main versions, each with exclusive scenes as well as cuts, and no version that contains ALL of the material. The version, originally made in English for export, was then further cut in some countries after the fact. In short summary:

1. Hong Kong version - 93 min PAL / 97 min NTSC
With "hard ending" (Yuen Biao dies) and a few action scenes missing in all other versions.
-> Has been remastered by Fortune Star and is therefore widely available. Included on various Hong Kong DVDs, the US DVD and French DVD, and the Hong Kong Blu-ray (upscale). In 2022, the film is released on Blu-ray in the US and UK, also with this version.

2. Mandarin version - 94 min PAL [would be equivalent to 98 min in NTSC].
Shorter than the Hong Kong version by spikes of violence, action scenes, and quite a few mini-cuts - but again contains its own additional action scenes. There is also a longer, "harmless ending" (Yuen Biao is rescued and tried in court).
-> The only known release has been the old Universe DVD from Hong Kong (Side B of the Flipper disc). The 2022 US Blu-ray by Vinegar Syndrome has some editing errors on this version.

3. Export version - 87 min PAL [would correspond to 90 min in NTSC].
Basically based on the Mandarin version (= the editing is based on the missing/additional scenes there and shows the "harmless ending"). Beyond that, however, streamlined by 8.5 minutes of plot. Also noticeable are English credits and inserts.
-> Included on the DVD from South Africa and template for the versions now mentioned as sub-items (a) and (b). The 2022 US Blu-ray by Vinegar Syndrome has some editing errors on this version.

3a. British VHS - 87 min PAL
Corresponds to the export version (3), but has been censored for three small spikes of violence.

3b. German version - 85 min PAL
Corresponds to the export version (3), but has been further censored by two minutes.

3c. French version - 73 min PAL
Based on the export version (3), but was shortened by 14 minutes. On the French DVD, this version was reconstructed as a bonus with the master of the Mandarin version (2). Possibly René Chateau's French VHS (also listed as 73 min) was differing some more.

Streamlining for export, a scene exclusive to the Mandarin version, a censorship peculiarity, and alternate shots in English

Four things make this report stand out. On the one hand, the main focus is of course on the cuts of around 8.5 minutes. Almost all of it can be easily understood: Basically, they are mostly scenes rather secondary to the plot, some of them with typical Hong Kong humor, which are not too sorely missed. They are just typical streamlining interventions to slim down the film a bit or to focus more on the action moments, which are clearly in the foreground, especially for Western viewers. Somewhat annoying are also small cuts at violence peaks like the murder of gangster boss Bill.

Almost all of these parts are also included in the alternative Hong Kong version and thus "not as exciting" with respect to the Mandarin version. One does stand out, however: only here can Cynthia Rothrock be seen playing Mahjong for much longer. This is also clearly compatible with the viewing habits of a Western audience, but interestingly, this was also removed from the Hong Kong version as well. About 1.5 minutes at a time can really only be found in the Mandarin version. There is also a moment at the very end of the film that can only be discovered here.

Otherwise, it should be noted again that the Hong Kong version discussed in the separate comparison is not only "harder" due to the alternative ending, but also offers a few additional peaks of violence. These are not only missing in the Mandarin version, but also in the export version, as it was obviously made on the basis of the Mandarin version. But there is an exception, because during the death of James Tien's character, the export version at least shows a short part of the scene that is much longer in the Hong Kong version.

Last but not least, the English editing is noticeable in one place in particular. A shot of a computer screen was recreated in English for the export version, and this moment can only be found outside of Asia. Apart from that, there is the obligatory difference in the opening and closing credits as well as some location inserts.


Runtimes are ordered as follows: African DVD in PAL / Mandarin version on Universe DVD in PAL

Note: Currently (September 2021), only the Hong Kong version has been restored and thus clearly has the best picture quality. The export version looks a bit worse, but again still a bit fresher compared to the Mandarin version on the old Universe DVD from Hong Kong. For the screenshots in the report, we have taken this into account accordingly and added the timecodes in small letters in each case, where you can find the scenes missing in one version at least partially in another.

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The English export credits are missing from the Universe DVD. It starts, also completely without any logos, right with the first exterior shot.

Note: The British VHS is missing the "aka" addition to the film title, but is otherwise identical. We have illustrated this in another report.

+ 58 sec

Occasional English inserts are simply not included in the Mandarin version.

Note: In the alternate Hong Kong version, they are in Chinese, we have illustrated this in another report.

African DVDHK DVD Universe

At minute 4, in the Asian versions (identical for Hong Kong + Mandarin), the credits then come in Chinese. The export version (and the UK and German releases based on it) remain blank here.

Export versionHong Kong/Mandarin version

08:30 / 07:32-08:09

After Chan learns that his key witness was murdered, he talks something about punishment for the gangster bosses. As a result, their defense attorney shouts "Objection!" twice, and the judge adjourns the trial. The Mandarin version is longer at this point (identical to the HK version).

Defense counsel : "Objection, objection, objection!"
Judge : "Objection sustained. Mr Hsia (Chan), that will be enough."
Chan: "Your honor, this book here doesn't just contain laws. It also senses out a code of condor for our society. But now that code is being challenged."
Defense counsel: "Objection, please your honor. This has got nothing to do with this case. It's just wasting my clients' time."
Judge: "Yes, sustained. Please get to the point."
Chan: "My law professor taught me that man makes the laws. But when the laws work against justice they become irrelevant. And someone has to stand up and challenge the criminals."
The defense attorney again shouts "Objection!" and only now the judge adjourns the trial.

Note: Comes with the Hong Kong version from 08:16-08:54 on the French DVD, and has been illustrated for the better quality of it..

37.8 sec

17:27 / 17:07-17:09

Gang boss suffers in Chan's stranglehold in an additional shot.

Note: Comes with the Hong Kong version of 16:34-16:36 on the French DVD, and has been illustrated for the better quality of it..

2 sec

17:29 / 17:10-17:20

Before the two guys outside get the door broken down, they are seen trying to get away for longer. In between, Chan chokes gang boss Bill more extensively and the latter loses consciousness.

Note: Comes with the Hong Kong version of 16:38-16:48 on the French DVD, and has been illustrated for the better quality of it.

10.1 sec

Exclusive footage in the Mandarin version.
18:58 / 18:49-20:45

More discussion at the gaming table. One noticeable thing here is that the picture quality changes slightly midway through the first (extended) shot. Apparently, for the Mandarin master of the Universe DVD, this was also already combined from several sources. This is thus also the first spot that is really ONLY seen in the Mandarin version, it is missing from both the Hong Kong and export versions. The point is quite obviously that Cindy understood more about the game of Mahjong than her fellow Asians give her credit for. However, since the usual Western viewer is unlikely to know the rules, this scene was probably deleted completely. Lastly, there is an additional 20 sec missing compared to the Hong Kong version, which at least gets in from there on, when the gangsters have settled down at the neighboring table.

Man #1: "Pung. Pung."
Man #2: "You know the rules! You can't take now."
Man #1: "You'd better teach you wife how to have children."
Cindy: "Play now. Stop nagging."
Man #2: "No, no, I must check the tiles."
Cindy: "What for? The way the 3 and 4-bamboo were discarded, and game depended on 8-number, but that tile was already exhausted. One must take 7-number to ask for 4, 7-number, or there won't be any chance."
The first man feels caught and moves his tiles.
Man #2: "Isn't she right about this?"
Man #1: "Only a wild guess. The Chinese tactics are kaleidoscopic. How could a foreign lady have guessed it?"
Cindy: "You must pung after you've said so."
She looks at her tokens; "Play now. You may be vulnerable to paying all."
Man #1: "You may be vulnerable to paying all."
Cindy flips her checkers with confidence; "One Double. I have money in my drawer."
Meanwhile, the baddies are led in; "This way, please, boss."
Boss: "Tell our men to scatter to play. Let's rake in something, then act."
From here then, the additional footage shortened compared to the HK version, which has also been screenshotted accordingly from the better picture source.
The old man looks at his stones and says, "Bad, no more 6-number. 6-number."
Man #2 criticizes, "What's the matter with you? It's 4-number, not 6-number. I said 6-number."
The old man winks at Cindy to indicate to her at which table Buffalo (the evil one) is sitting. This, or table 6, was what he was referring to in his game, which was criticized by his fellow players as being wrong. How Cindy then turns around is again included in the export version.

115,2 sec (= 1:55 min) [of which exclusively in the Mandarin version 97,6 sec]

19:00 / 20:47-21:16

While Cindy immediately leaves her gaming table in the German version after she slams the Mahjong piece down on the table, the scene actually continues - and it becomes clear here, at the latest, how the mention of the number 6 was to be understood in the previous cut.

The two other guys continue to make fun of the older gentleman, since the stone does not represent a six, but a four. Big discussion, which is finally ended by Cindy saying "Too late. I win, guys." The two get upset again, as their row is not a "winning hand". Afterwards, Cindy pulls out her CID badge and the two leave the table grumbling ("Even the CID are cheats.." "Nothing's save anymore").

Note: Comes with the Hong Kong version from 18:38-19:07 on the French DVD, and has been illustrated for the better quality of it.

29.3 sec

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